It is the night of the 18th of July, 2011. 0400hrs, and I have been tossing and turning all night. It is only hours away, and I will be there in person. The Ivory Burn.
When I was a little girl, I watched it on the television, and read about it for many years in many books and prints. It moved me. It moulded me. Tonight, it frightens me.
I didn’t know back then, that I would live to witness another event of this nature. I didn’t know back then, that I would see the face of its reason. So here I am, wondering what the coming hours will bring. More than anything else, I fear how I will feel.
Not too many months ago, I had the honour of assisting Danny Woodley’s team in Tsavo West with some rhino tracking and a census as a volunteer. I learnt a lot from that trip, and saw a lot too. After our day of tracking, I requested to see some of the confiscated trophies from the store. Three rangers unlocked the huge padlock and walked into a very dark room. My heart did not know what to expect. Minutes later, two of the rangers walked out carrying one of the biggest tusks I ever saw. They lay it on the ground and went back inside. Suddenly, I connected.
It felt as though I was in some sort of trance, I could hear nothing of what was going on around me, and all I saw were the tusks being carried out, one by one, different sizes, different elephants. I became them. These were not ivory to me, these were brothers, sisters, mothers, babies… These were white blood.
A few displays later, the rangers had to stop. I never cried so hard in my life. I was on my knees, weakened by the pain in my heart. I could hear them. I could hear the guns, I could hear the poachers hacking away the faces of my friends. The children crying, the mothers, dying. I could see them.
I walked up to one of the displays, shaking. I reached out my hand, and felt the cool, smooth ivory under my fingers. A lost soul, and my broken heart. I was inconsolable. I am still inconsolable, and tomorrow, I will face it again. The sight I fear more than that of a poacher, or a lion in the bush. Tomorrow I will see Ivory. I don’t know how I will feel, will I be stronger this time? Or will I break down and see the horrors of bloodshed once again? I do not know. But I do know this, tomorrow, the Ivory I see will be in flames. Flames as red as the blood that was shed, flames as hot as the hellish wrath that shall be hurled upon the poachers and hunters who dare end the life of such a gentle soul. Tomorrow, the few pieces of Ivory I see, will give me a hope for the justice of the rest.
Justice for the fallen majesties of my great African nation, justice for the people who are enslaved by corruption, and justice, …for Sixty.
God knows I will fight with all I can, all I have, to see the end of this era. I will not stop until wildlife knows peace and tranquility. I cannot stop.
Tomorrow, Ivory burns.
Tomorrow, I will weep… :’(